Life Sciences

Joy Sorman, trans. from the French by Lara Vergnaud. Restless, $18 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63-206295-6
French writer Sorman portrays a girl’s transition to womanhood as an ancestral curse in her English-language debut, an arresting allegory described by author Catherine Lacey in an introduction as a “feminist Metamorphosis.” Ninon Moise grows up in 1990s Paris with a hunger for horrific stories of her family’s mysterious genetic disorder, which has saddled each of the women in her family with a variety of ailments, beginning in 1518 with “patient zero” Marie Lacaze, the family’s “hero and monster.” Ninon knows it’s only a matter of time until the curse strikes her, too. Then, at 17, Ninon starts to feel a burning sensation on her skin and a tremendous amount of pain whenever something touches her arms. She sees a series of dermatologists, psychiatrists, and shamans in hope of finding a cure, all to no avail. Her determination to jump “out of the line of cursed, mad, degenerate women” makes her an engaging character as well as a powerful cipher of resistance to the stories she’s grown up with. After Esther gives her a copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis to help her cope, Ninon decides she’s “afraid of getting used to the cockroach state, to horror as a standard of existence.” Readers will feel empowered by this tale of taking control of one’s body. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/29/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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